Bahamas Blog International
The moment of truth
Reflections of Fidel
NEWS arriving from the Danish capital paints a picture of chaos. After planning an event in which around 40,000 people were to participate, the hosts have no way of keeping their promise. Evo, who was the first of the ALBA presidents to arrive there, expressed certain profound truths emanating from the millenary culture of his people.
According to the news agencies, he affirmed that he had received a mandate from the Bolivian people to oppose any agreement if the final declaration fails not meet expectations. He explained that climate change is not the cause but the effect, that we have an obligation to defend the rights of Mother Earth against the model of capitalist development, the culture of life against the culture of death. He spoke of the climate debt that the rich countries must pay to the poor countries, and the return of atmospheric space seized from the latter.
He described as "ridiculous" the figure of $10 billion dollars offered per year up until 2012 when, in reality, hundreds of billions of dollars are needed every year. He also accused the United States of spending trillions of dollars on exporting terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan and establishing military bases in Latin America.
The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela addressed the Summit on December 16th, at 8:40 a.m. Cuban time. He made a brilliant speech that received tremendous applause. His remarks were categorical.
Contesting a document proposed to the Summit by the Danish minister chairing the conference, he stated:
"…it is a text that comes from nothing, we do not accept any other text unless it comes out of the working groups which are the legitimate texts that have been discussed with such intensity during these two years."
"There is a group of countries which believe themselves superior to us from the South, to us from the Third World…"
"…we are not surprised: there is no democracy in the world and we are here, once again, in the face of powerful evidence of a world imperial dictatorship."
"…I was reading some of the slogans painted in the streets by the young people…One: ‘Let’s not change the climate, let’s change the system’…Another: ‘If the climate was a bank, they would have saved it already.’"
"Obama… received the Nobel Peace prize virtually the same day that he was sending an additional 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in Afghanistan."
"We were raising our hands to accompany Brazil, India, Bolivia and China, in their interesting position … but, well, we were not given the floor…"
"The rich are destroying the Earth… do they have plans to go to another planet?"
"Climate change is, without any doubt, the most devastating environmental problem of the present century."
"The United States could amount to possibly 300 million inhabitants; China has a population that is almost five times larger than the United States. The United States consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil per day. Chine barely reaches 5 or 6 million barrels per day. One can’t ask the same of the United States and China."
"… reducing contaminating gas emissions and achieving a long-term cooperation agreement […] seems to have failed, for now. What is the reason for that? […] the irresponsible attitude and the lack of political will on the part of the most powerful nations of the planet."
"…the gap that separates the rich countries from the poor is still expanding despite the existence of the Millennium Goals, the Monterrey Summit on finance, all of these summits – as the president of Senegal said, denouncing a great truth, promises and promises and promises that have been unfulfilled, while the world continues along its destructive path."
"…The total income of the 500 richest individuals on the planet is greater than the income of the 416 million poorest people."
"Infant mortality stands at 47 per 1,000 live births; but the figure for the rich countries is just 5 ..."
"…For how long are we going to allow millions of children to continue dying from curable diseases?"
"Some 2.6 billion people live without health services,"
"Brazilian Leonardo Boff wrote: ‘that the fittest survive over the ashes of the weakest.’"
Jean Jacob Rousseau [sic] said: ""Between the weak and the strong, it is freedom which oppresses." For this reason, the empire talks of freedom, in order to invade, to murder, to annihilate, to exploit, that is its freedom. And Rousseau goes on: "it is the law which sets free."
"For how long are we going to allow armed conflicts that massacre millions of innocent human beings, with the aim of awarding the resources of other nations to the more powerful ones?"
"Almost two centuries ago, Simón Bolívar, the Liberator said:
‘If nature opposes, we will fight against her and make her obey us.’"
"This planet is billions of years old, and has existed for billions of years without us, the human race: that is to say, it does not need us to exist. Now, we cannot live without the Earth…"
Evo addressed the conference in the morning of today, Thursday. His speech will also never be forgotten.
He very candidly opened his remarks by saying: "I wish to say how upset we are over the lack of organization and the delays in this international gathering…"
His basic ideas were the following:
"When we ask the hosts what is going on, […] we are told it is the United Nations; when we ask the United Nations what is going on, they say it is Denmark, so we don’t know who is disorganizing this international event…" "…I’m very shocked because only the effects and not the causes of climate change are being discussed."
"If we fail to identify where the destruction of the environment is coming from […] we will never be able to solve this problem…"
"…two cultures are under discussion here: the culture of life and the culture of death; the culture of death, which is capitalism. We, the indigenous peoples, say that it is living better, better at the cost of others.’"
"…exploiting others, plundering their natural resources, assaulting Mother Earth, privatizing basic services…"
"…living well is living in solidarity, in equality, in complementation, in reciprocity…"
"These two different ways of life, these two cultures of life are in debate when we it comes to climate change, and if we do not decide which is the better way of living or of life, it is certain that we are never going to resolve this issue, because we have problems with life: luxury and consumerism damage humanity and sometimes we don’t want to admit the truth in this kind of international event."
"…in our way of life being truthful is sacred, and we are not practicing the truths here."
"…in our Constitution it reads ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella, which means do not steal, do not lie, do not be weak."
"…Mother Earth or Nature exist and will continue to exist without the human race, but human beings can’t live without planet Earth, therefore, it is our duty to defend the right of Mother Earth."
"…I applaud the United Nations because this year, it has finally established the International Day of Mother Earth."
"…a mother is sacred, a mother is our life; a mother cannot be rented, cannot be sold or assaulted, she must be respected."
"We have profound differences with the Western model, and that is under discussion at this moment."
"We are in Europe, and you know that many Bolivian families, many Latin American families come to Europe. Why do they come here? To improve their living conditions. In Bolivia, they might be earning $100 or $200 per month; but that family, that person comes here to take care of an elderly European grandfather or grandmother and earns $1,000 a month."
"These are the asymmetries that exist among continents and we are obliged to discuss ways in which to achieve a certain equilibrium, […] reducing these profound asymmetries that exist among families, among countries, and especially continents."
""When […] our brothers and sisters come here to survive or to improve their living conditions they are expelled. There are papers which are known as repatriation documents […] but when those elderly Europeans arrived in Latin America all those years ago, they were never expelled. My families, my brothers do not come here to seize control of mines, nor do they possess thousands of hectares in order to become landowners. In the past, no visas or passports were required to come to Abya Yala, now called, America."
"…the rich nations should welcome all migrants who are affected by climate change instead of forcing them to return to their countries as they are doing at the moment…"
"…our obligation is to save all of humanity and not half of humanity."
"…the FTAA, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, […] is not a Free Trade Area of the Americas, but a free colonization area of the Americas…"
Evo suggested the following questions, among others, for a worldwide referendum on climate change:
"..Do you agree to reestablishing a harmonious relationship with Nature, recognizing the rights of Mother Earth...?"
"…Are you in agreement with changing this system of excessive consumerism and waste, that is, the capitalist system...?"
"…Do you agree that the developed countries should reduce and reabsorb their greenhouse gas emissions…?"
"…Do you agree on transferring everything that is currently being spent in wars to create a budget higher than the defense budget to tackle the problem of climate change…?"
As is widely known, the UN Agreement on Climate Change was signed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. This protocol obliged 38 industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage in relation to those emitted in 1990. The countries of the European Union committed themselves to 8%, a move which came into effect in 2005, when most of the signatory countries had already ratified it. George W. Bush, then president of the United States – the largest producer of greenhouse gases and responsible for a quarter of total emissions – had rejected the agreement from mid-2001 onward.
The other members of the United Nations continued with their efforts. The research centers continued with their work. It is now evident that a major disaster is threatening our species. Perhaps the worst aspect is that the blind egotism of a privileged and rich minority is attempting to lay the burden of the necessary sacrifices on the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants.
That contradiction is reflected in Copenhagen. Thousands of people are there, fiercely defending their points of view.
The Danish police are resorting to brutal methods to crush resistance; many protesters are being preventively arrested. I spoke on the phone with our Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who was at a solidarity rally in Copenhagen with Chávez, Evo, Lazo and other ALBA representatives. I asked him who those people were that the Danish police suppressed with such hate, twisting back their arms and beating them repeatedly across the back. He said they were Danish citizens and people from other European nations as well as members of the social movements who were demanding from the Summit an immediate solution to deal with climate change. He also told me that debates in the Summit were to continue until midnight. It was already night in Copenhagen when I spoke with him. The time difference is six hours.
Our comrades in the Danish capital have informed us that an even worse situation is expected tomorrow morning, Friday 18th. At 10:00 a.m. the UN Summit is to be adjourned for two hours while the Danish prime minister meets with 20 heads of state invited by him to discuss "global problems" with Obama. That is what they have called the meeting, which is aimed at imposing an agreement on climate change.
Even though all of the official delegations are to take part, only "invited guests" will be allowed to express their views. Of course, neither Chávez nor Evo are among those entitled to express their opinions. The idea is to give the illustrious Nobel Laureate an opportunity to read his previously drafted speech, preceded by the decision to de adopted in that meeting to postpone the agreement until the end of next year in Mexico City. The social movements will not be permitted to attend. After that show, the "Summit" will resume in the plenary hall until its ignominious closure.
As television channels have broadcast the footage, the world has been able to see the fascist methods used against the people in Copenhagen. The protesters, young people in the main, who have been repressed, have earned the solidarity of the peoples.
Despite the maneuvers and unprincipled lies of the leaders of the empire, the moment of truth is drawing closer. Their own allies are increasingly losing confidence in them. In Mexico, as in Copenhagen or anywhere else in the world, they will be met by the growing resistance of the peoples who have not lost the hope of surviving.
Fidel Castro Ruz
December 17, 2009
Translated by Granma International
|December 19, 2009 | 11:16 AM
Bahamas: Hottest December on record
Related to country: Bahamas
By KRYSTEL ROLLE ~ Guardian Staff Reporter ~ firstname.lastname@example.org:
Local meteorologists have confirmed what most Bahamians had already surmised: This is the hottest December in recorded history.
According to meteorologist Arnold King, The Bahamas has been experiencing above average temperatures all month.
King said the average temperature in December is 79.2 degrees Fahrenheit. This year the average has been 83 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest average ever recorded for that month.
In addition, he said the highest temperature ever recorded in December is 86.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
"But this year we have broken that. We've gone up to 88 degrees on a few days," he added.
Julie Nixon is one of many Bahamians who have complained about the heat this winter.
She said she has yet to find an excuse to don her new leather jacket. Even her light jackets have remained in her closet -- collecting dust, she said.
"I was expecting it to be a little cooler. I want to (wear) my black leather jacket. Christmas just isn't Christmas without a little chill," she said.
King said most days the temperature has been above 80 degrees.
"We've had a high pressure ridge sitting over us which prevented cold fronts from moving through The Bahamas," he explained.
And while the weather may have some Bahamians complaining about the heat, it's a problem that Canadian native Emily Jones said she prayed to have.
"This is beautiful weather. I love it here. I can't believe this is what The Bahamas is like in December," she said.
Jones, who's vacationing in New Providence for a week, said she is not looking forward to returning home as the weather is the coldest it has been in years.
She said when she left home it was snowing and "freezing cold."
"I'm just happy to feel the sun," Jones added.
Meanwhile, Bahamian Kendra Brown said she has been forced to leave her air conditioning on all month.
"It's too hot otherwise," she said.
"I've found myself using my pool a little more this month. It's just ridiculously hot. It's December but it still feels like the summer. No wind, no breeze, nothing. It's just hot. As soon as I walk outside, I'm sweating."
Meteorologist Jeffrey Simmons said this year has been extraordinarily hot.
"This is December when it usually cools down. Usually we have cold fronts from the north pole but a lot of fronts are not making it all the way down," he said.
According to Simmons, this is not the first time this has happened in The Bahamas.
"We've had some Decembers when the fronts have been slow to come down. This year the fronts seems to be stalling altogether."
He said most of the cold fronts only make it as far as Central America.
However, he added that one is expected to pass over The Bahamas this weekend.
"So maybe then we'll see a little cooling."
Asked if the uncharacteristic heat had anything to do with the climate change, he said "the jury is still out on that."
"It's not so easy to say exactly what it is," he added.
Simmons said that in the next few months, after more credible analysis is compiled, he will be able to say more.
December 16, 2009
|December 16, 2009 | 10:08 AM
What kind of a liar are you?
By Rhonda Mitchell:
A child’s view of the world at any age is one of the most insightful things to me. Where we see the bigger issues and mountains if you will, their simplistic views of the world can utterly level ours.
|Rhonda Mitchell is a media planner in Norwalk, CT. She has a BS in Corporate Communication. She grew up in Nevis for the first thirteen years of her life before moving to Norwalk. Feedback to: email@example.com|
One day my son and I were having a discussion on lying. He asked me what makes someone a liar. I paused. I had to think for a minute, and then I said people who lie. He then said, well, have you ever lied in your lifetime? I said yes, everyone has. Then he said that makes the whole world liars, because once you’ve done something you become a part of it. It doesn’t matter if we did it once or ten times.
His statement silenced me into deep thinking, sorting through all the other stuff I may have done once. We don’t necessarily live the lifestyle of whatever wrong we may have done once in our lifetime but, I think it gives credence to my son’s point. Think of people who have won awards and accolades once in their lifetime though they may not participate in the competitions, arts, etc anymore, they’re still winners -- looking through the eyes of a child.
Where would you fall on the “tree of lies” diagram? For me, I think denial and omission comes to mind quickly. I hate lies. Even more so, the word liar because it sounds so harsh. As a result, it’s where we inject the categorical standings as to soften the blow on how we depict ourselves. Mankind can rationalise anything we want to soothe the situation. But, in the authentic context of what the definition of lie is, I too, must succumb to my shortcomings. Who can completely and absolutely determine that they will never do it again? We have all lied about something or another, and for some of us it’s as natural as breathing.
I once heard a preacher talk about the many ways in which we human beings lie to ourselves and others. Though we would like to think that we do not, we do on various levels in our lives. Interestingly enough, this preacher went onto to list the ways in which we lie: “the white lie-er/ small lie-er”, “the big lie-er”, “the exaggerate-er”, “the deception-er”, “the denial-er”, “the fabricate-er”, and “the omission-er”. According to Webster’s online dictionary we can all find ourselves in at least one definition below:
A White Lie: An unimportant lie (especially one told to be tactful or polite)
A Big Lie: Deliberate gross distortion of the truth used especially as a propaganda tactic
Exaggeration: To enlarge beyond bounds or the truth
Deception: Something that deceives
Denial: Refusal to admit the truth or reality (as of a statement or charge); assertion that
an allegation is false; refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing
Fabrication: a product of fabrication; especially: lie or falsehood
Omission: to leave out or leave unmentioned
Should it matter which category we fall into? Or is it more important to admit that we do lie? Depending on how our magnifying glasses work we should probably find ourselves looking more inwardly rather than outwardly to others. I use to think that I didn’t lie about anything, especially, in my emotions and opinions. My mantra was, if you really don’t want an honest answer; don’t ask me anything, because I will give you an honest answer. At times, the answer is I don’t know.
I was raised not to lie or else my little behind would taste the pleasure of my grandmother’s belt called “Charlie”. Of course, we all did it as children. My grandmother had a bushel of us to cause enough mischief and misbehaviour, that no one person was ever willing to continually fess up to wrongdoings. Hence, the “liar tree” bore fruit, and the unsuspecting categories of where I would fall one day, awaited my arrival.
As I’ve grown over the years, I now understand the consequences of lying. When someone builds a reputation on lies it’s difficult for people to see him or her beyond that definition. Then it becomes even more complex to shift that view of what others have labeled the person. So, it’s in conscientiousness that we choose our categories in how we lie. The only downside to that theory is, there are no categories in God’s view. A lie is a lie.
In my experiences I have found women tend to lie in the categories of denial (relationships, keeping up with the Joneses/neighbours) and deception (beauty, relationships) the most. We go along with things, and do niceties, and suppress feelings that we want to express more readily just to keep the peace. On many occasions we live in the state of denial about our issues.
Through deception we can and will make things appear differently, than what it really is for the moment. To name a few simple examples: we have hair extensions, hair weaves; make up, push-up bras, girdles, butt- lift underwear and the list goes on some more. This is the lighter side of our deceptive practices. A lot of women will get defensive on the issue about the lengths we go through to enhance our beauty and appearances, and in sticking with the truth, the enhancement process is really deception.
In my other experiences I have found men lie in the categories of exaggeration (sports, jobs, money) fabrication (relationships) and omission (relationships) the most. Men will exaggerate in storytelling about sporting events/gym. How much they can bench press, run or throw a ball; how they can beat the guy who’s playing the sport they’re watching on TV, in the arena, or on the field and the rest. They will exaggerate their job functions, and how they can care for their women and somebody else’s. They will also fabricate and omit facts depending on the situation in a relationship.
We can sort lying by any category we choose -- gender, race, age, culture, and so forth; the bottom line is we lie to ourselves and or to each other. It’s always easier to look at other people and judge their degrees of lying, then compare theirs to our standards. This reminds me of the old saying –we use rose colored glasses to look at ourselves and magnifying glasses to look at others. Perhaps, even as I write this piece, other categories of lying may emerge and where and how I would fit in, may increase. Can human beings really live their most authentic lives without lying about anything? Can we truly survive in a world without lies of any sort? Ideally, we can all say yes. Realistically-what kind of a liar are you?
December 15, 2009
|December 15, 2009 | 8:58 AM
The Caribbean in the new world order
Benito Wheatley, Contributor
Trinidad's Prime Minister Patrick Manning. File
Caribbean states today find themselves in an international system in which the traditional centres of power are shifting. No longer is power solely concentrated among a select few powerful states in North America, Europe and Japan; rather, economic, political, and military power are now more widely dispersed around the world.
The economic and financial weakening of the West, coupled with the rise of China, India, Brazil and a resurgent Russia, have dramatically changed the power dynamics of the international system and accelerated the pace of change. In sum, the uni-polar world of the post-Cold War era dominated by the United States and its allies is diminishing and an uncertain new world order is emerging.
This rare realignment of the international system presents a historic opportunity for Caribbean states to reinvent themselves in world affairs and to assert themselves on the international stage. Importantly, the Caribbean's geographic location and colonial history place it within multiple spheres of influence and define the region's relationship with the rest of the world.
The international relations of the region encompasses Caribbean state's relations with powerful state actors like the United States (US), China, and Russia; former colonial and status quo powers such as Britain, France, Netherlands and Canada; and regional and revolutionary states like Cuba and Venezuela.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Caribbean's premier regional organisation, is an exercise by a collection of Caribbean states to carve out an independent sphere of influence. The organisation's major challenge is managing the region's international relationships, while maintaining an independent position that promotes the interests of the region.
Notably, the Caribbean has been courted by a number of states as the competition for natural resources and influence between great and emerging powers has intensified in recent years. World powers such as China and Russia have established partnerships and struck a number of strategic deals in select Caribbean countries. Venezuela continues to supply Caribbean states with cheap crude oil, refined petroleum products, and liquefied petroleum gas at reduced rates under its PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement.
applied for membership
Venezuela has also applied for membership in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), a subregional organisation of the Eastern Caribbean. The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a regional trade group composed of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, recently admitted Dominica to its ranks in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to draw the Caribbean state away from its traditional regional grouping and draw it into the orbit of several of the hemisphere's leftist states. The US is closely monitoring the activities of other world powers and hemispheric players in the region, and recently pledged to renew engagement with CARICOM and to increase aid flows to the region.
Despite these advances, CARICOM must be careful not to entangle itself in any regional, hemispheric, or global disputes or rivalries between competing powers. Rather, Caribbean states should concentrate their foreign policy on international trade, climate change, democracy, and other issues that directly impact the region.
Historically, the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, has played a marginal role in world affairs in the post-Cold War era. The relatively weak position of the region in the international system necessitates its small island and coastal developing states' reliance on international organisations and institutions such as the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and Organisation of American States (OAS) to advance their agendas and interests in global affairs.
As members of the WTO, Caribbean states have skilfully defended their commercial interests, which was clearly demonstrated by the Republic of Antigua & Barbuda, which successfully mounted a challenge against the United States in 2005 on the issue of online gambling. Caribbean states have also vigorously defended their commercial interests in the stalled Doha round of international trade talks by joining a number of emerging and developing states calling for the elimination of farm subsidies and lowering of non-tariff barriers in agricultural markets in the US, Europe, and Japan.
In the diplomatic arena, Caribbean states have also performed skilfully, which was most recently demonstrated by the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which successfully hosted and superbly chaired the Fifth Summit of the Americas (April 2009) held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. The highly anticipated meeting was expected to be highly contentious and non-productive, but was salvaged in part by the statesmanship of Prime Minister Patrick Manning and his aides. Importantly, CARICOM member states are strategically positioned to play a constructive role in the democratic development of the region, given their strong traditions of democracy and respect for human rights. Their solid record in both areas gives them the credibility and legitimacy to speak forcefully on issues of democratisation, political reform, and human rights with respect to Cuba and Haiti.
Another area where the Caribbean as a region has an opportunity to make its voice heard on the international stage is climate change. The danger of rising sea levels and more intense and frequent tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea as a result of global warming makes climate change a legitimate concern for island states and coastal nations.
Caribbean states should use international forums, such as that provided at the United Nation's Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen (last week), to express their concerns and inform the world about the real dangers of climate change and its impact on the region. Caribbean states must also leverage their membership in international institutions like the UN and OAS to garner support for combating problems like drug and human trafficking.
Finally, in order to play a greater role in global affairs, Caribbean states must transform the region's image from that of sunny vacation destinations and offshore tax havens to regional power brokers. The Dominican Republic was moderately successful in this regard when it helped mediate and resolve a conflict among Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador in 2008. Notably, the country has reapplied for membership in CARICOM.
In conclusion, the realignment of the international system has created a historic opening for the Caribbean. Caribbean states, and in particular CARICOM member states, have an opportunity to change the Caribbean's marginal role in world affairs by strategically asserting themselves on the international stage. A constructive role can be played by Caribbean states in hemispheric relations and the democratisation of Cuba and stabilisation of Haiti.
Caribbean states can also take active roles in world trade talks facilitated by the WTO and global talks on climate change. If Caribbean states act strategically to position themselves as power brokers in the emerging new world order, they have an opportunity to exert a greater measure of influence in the international system than has traditionally been the case, despite their limited capabilities as developing small island and coastal states.
Benito Wheatley is a researcher for the publication 'International Affairs Forum', produced by the Centre for International Affairs in Arlington, Virginia, and is also a Programme Board Associate at the Institute of Caribbean Studies in Washington, DC. For comments or questions he may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 13, 2009
|December 13, 2009 | 8:34 AM
Tiger Woods taking hiatus from golf
By Tiger Woods:
I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.
I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.
After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.
Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.
|December 11, 2009 | 7:18 PM
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